In the third of a series of articles by those who have benefitted from attending Wanstead Youth Centre – which is under threat of closure – Jenny Steedman reports on the work of Forest Twins and Triplets Club
I am the chairperson of Forest Twins and Triplets Club, a friendly, welcoming and supportive playgroup for parents of multiples. We have been running for 48 years this year and we meet weekly at Wanstead Youth Centre.
The centre is a lifeline for parents of multiples. I joined the club when I had my twins in 2016 and it was such a relief to find somewhere to go and meet other multiple parents that was easily accessible with a twin pram. The help, advice and support given has benefitted so many families over the years and is invaluable.
If the youth centre does close, then it is highly unlikely our club can continue. We have specific venue needs due to how much equipment we have to store, as well as access and safety requirements. So far, we have failed to find any other venue that can meet our needs. If our club didn’t exist, it would have an extremely detrimental effect on our members. Parents of multiples need our group to have a safe and supportive place to take their children to play and talk to other parents in the same situation. It’s hard enough to get out of the house with one baby; imagine having two or three! I have often had parents say they are too scared to leave the house on their own, but once they have been to our club, they are so pleased they did and are very grateful.
If the centre closes, many new parents will just stay at home, which is really sad. They will miss out on a multitude of help, advice, friendship and support, and their children will miss out on socialising with other children. If the past few years has taught us anything, it is the importance of having a supportive community we can meet up with in person. To think these parents and children could be denied that is heartbreaking. And it is not only our group who would be impacted. There are lots of other groups for older people and children run there, which are so important to the mental health and well-being of all.
The effects of the centre closing would be catastrophic for the wider community! Where will all the fantastic groups go? Will their members just give up on their favourite activity? Will people lose touch with their friends and become lonely? The effect on people’s mental health, fitness and well-being would be very serious and put additional strain on the NHS.
I ask the council to invest in the community by refurbishing and updating the building so it can be kept as a vital centre for the people of Redbridge.
For more information on the Forest Twins and Triplets Club, visit wnstd.com/fttc
Wanstead Youth Centre is located at 144 Elmcroft Avenue, Wanstead, E11 2DB. For more information on the Save Our Wanstead Youth Centre campaign, visit wnstd.com/sowyc or call 07403 649 306